On Nov. 30, the Nature Trust launched a public appeal to help save one of the best remaining refuges for Blanding’s turtles in the province. The property, encompassing 15 islands and forested peninsula on McGowan Lake, southwest Nova Scotia, includes five and a half kilometers of undeveloped shoreline and one of the most critical nesting sites for the endangered turtles.
The trust had just one month to raise the funds to purchase the site, so they kicked off a campaign to raise $224,000. They hit their goal just before Christmas, after several corporate sponsorships came forward.
Corporations stepping up to help save the turtles include Scotiabank, Ascenta, AVEDA, and the Imperial Oil Foundation and The Chronicle Herald.
In addition, over 300 individuals, young and old, from across Nova Scotia and beyond, donated to help ensure the turtles had a home for the holidays, making this campaign one of the most successful in the Nature Trust’s history. Many chose to symbolically “adopt” a turtle for friends and loved ones as a holiday gift, with over 150 people supporting the McGowan Lake turtles this way.
Bonnie Sutherland, Executive Director at the Nature Trust, said the support was overwhelming.
“It is heartwarming to know that so many people care so much about the future of this endangered species. Lumpy and Squirt’s story touched a lot of people. Now, their habitat will remain wild for future generations of Blanding’s turtles and their hatchlings.”
The Blanding’s turtle is an endangered species in Canada. With less than 1 per cent of hatchlings surviving, and expanding cottage development and roads in the areas where these turtles live, Blanding’s turtles are struggling to survive. Within Nova Scotia, they are only found in one area around Kejimkujik National Park, and there are likely only about 350 adult turtles remaining.
The Sanctuary becomes part of a growing network of 52 Nature Trust conservation lands, protecting over 6600 acres of coastal wilderness, critical freshwater habitats, old-growth forests, and habitat for species at risk, as well as unique wilderness recreation, nature appreciation, education and research opportunities.
Sutherland added, “The Nature Trust is incredibly grateful to all those who so generously contributed to the campaign, and who so enthusiastically championed the cause!”
Donations are still welcome for the McGowan Lake site. Additional funds will help to build a stewardship endowment fund for McGowan Lake, providing critical funds to steward and protect the property, in perpetuity.
For more information call (902) 425-LAND, or visit www.nsnt.ca/savingturtles.